Web exclusive: Mark Harper on the LGBT Film Fest


What: Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival

When: Friday, Nov. 9 to Sunday, Nov. 11

Where: Landmark’s Keystone Art Cinema & Indie Lounge, 8702 Keystone Crossing, Suite 201A

Tickets: $65 for full festival pass

$40 for premiere party passes

$30 Saturday all-day pass

$25 Sunday all-day pass

$15 premiere film ticket for Friday night

$8 individual film tickets for Saturday and Sunday screenings

Students with a valid student ID eligible for discounts on all-day film passes and individual tickets.

What: Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival Premiere Party

When: Friday, Nov. 9, 10 p.m.

Where: Agio Restaurant, 635 Massachusetts Ave.

Tickets: $25 party-only cover charge at the door

The Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival returns for its seventh year Nov. 9-11 with 29 films from six countries around the globe. Sponsored in part by AT&T Pioneers and Expo Design, the festival benefits the Indiana Youth Group, a nonprofit celebrating its 20th year of serving the needs of Central Indiana’s LGBT youth.

“A high percentage of what we show arrives in our mailbox as personally submitted, truly independently made film, and we’re proud to show the best of those submissions and award those films each year, whether they come from Terre Haute or Tokyo,” said Mark Harper, chair of the film selection committee.

This year’s festival kicks off on Nov. 9 with a screening of “Itty Bitty Titty Committee” at Landmark’s Keystone Art Cinema & Indie Lounge. The film, an all-girl production led by director Jamie Babbit (“But I’m a Cheerleader”), is a “fictional/comical look at a group of activist lesbians — mostly in their 20s and totally anarchic — with a rocking soundtrack,” Harper said.

After the premiere, festival-goers can head over to Agio Restaurant for the after-party featuring a complimentary cocktail menu and complimentary hors d’ouvres.

The festival continues on Saturday with a lineup that includes everything from shorts that celebrate youth, to documentaries that explore gender issues, to an electrifying science fiction feature from director Sean Abley, “Socket.”

“It’s a sexy science fiction thriller about strange addictions and underground urban cults,” Harper said. “The best way I could describe it might be an episode of “Queer as Folk” taking place in “General Hospital” but directed by David Cronenberg!”

Saturday’s eclectic lineup leads up to this year’s centerpiece films, which will be screened back-to-back.

“Every year has its own qualities and character, simply because of the diversity of films we offer and the ground that we’ve broken with our past choices for the opening night screening and the centerpiece screening,” Harper said.

Past titles to be featured have included “Transamerica” and “The Notorious C.H.O.” This year’s centerpiece films are “Nina’s Heavenly Delights” and “A Four Letter Word.”

“Nina’s Heavenly Delights” tells the story of a young Scottish-Asian woman who returns home after the death of her father, to help run her family’s Indian restaurant and secure the trophy of The Best of the West Curry Competition for the third time. Her plans are complicated when she realizes she’s falling in love with the woman who now owns half of the restaurant.

“A Four Letter Word” is a romantic comedy that centers on stereotypically promiscuous Luke, who eventually meets his match in macho man Stephen.

Also to be featured on Saturday is “The Gendercator.” Directed by Indianapolis-based filmmaker Catherine Crouch, who serves both as a judge and on the film selection committee this year, the 15-minute short satirically tackles issues of female body modification and gender.

“Catherine has been a fantastic asset for the festival,” Harper said. “She has an amazing intelligence on what cinema is and what it can be.”

Sunday features a panel of documentaries and Human Rights Campaign selections, including “Blueprint,” which chronicles the burgeoning relationship between two black college students, and “East Side Story,” a tale that “takes place in a Latino neighborhood that is gradually transitioning to gay residents,” according to Harper.

The festival concludes on Sunday night with a closing party at Talbott Street SkyBar featuring a complimentary dessert bar.

For his part, Harper, whose involvement with the festival can be traced all the way back to its first year, is excited about the festival’s growth and potential to reach both LGBT and “cinema-loving” audiences.

“Personally, I think the coolest thing about queer cinema is the fact that it touches on issues of gender roles, personal identity and the enigmas of sexuality,” Harper said, who will next year replace Pamela Powell as the festival director. “At its best, this type of cinema — regardless of the genre — applies to everyone and involves everyone because of the questions it can raise.”

Advance tickets are available at the festival Web site, Out Word Bound Bookstore, Talbott Street and the downtown and Broad Ripple Luna Music stores.

For more information on the festival go to www.indylgbtfilmfest.com.